Hypothermia in the Little House
Science in Children's Literature: Among the cornerstones of science are careful observation and accurate description. Like scientists, authors must also be careful observers. Mrs. Wilder's book presents a fine example in her depiction of the symptoms and treatment of hypothermia. Every time I read it I am more impressed with her scientific accuracy. It is worth starting early to develop skills at noticing what happens around you and at describing what you see. I have used this example with very young students as an introduction to preparing for outdoor winter activity. I read a few sentences or paragraphs, and then break the narrative to ask questions and begin discussion. By the time Laura and Carrie stumble back into the house, I am stopping at almost every sentence. I emphasize to my students that dressing correctly and eating properly will preserve health and enhance enjoyment of the outdoors. I can also envision using this example within a general unit on health and the human body, or even as an introduction to a writing assignment on observations. I leave it to the individual teachers to incorporate this example into their own curriculums at the appropriate level for their classes.